5270

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Pair of Engraved Silver Yemeni Bracelets (Mutall)

Wadi Daw’an, Hadramaut, Yemen
early 20th century

outside diameter: 11cm, inside diameter: 6.6cm, combined weight: 204g

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Provenance

UK art market

Bracelets of this type are relatively rare, particularly as a pair (usually they become separated from one another). Known as mutall, they are of hammered silver sheet and are hollow. They are engraved all over with geometric motifs as well as fine floral designs. The form is of a coil that partly doubles over itself, with pierced, cage-like finials. The form is something of a stylised python with a fatter middle section, and growing more slender towards the ends.

They were worn on the upper part of the forearm by women in the Hadramaut (Hadhramaut) region, possibly they were worn in pairs on the one arm.

The bracelets contain small beads or stones which tinkle or rattle when the bracelets are moved.

One has a brief engraved Arabic inscription on the inside – most probably this is the name of the owner.

A related, single example is illustrated in Ransom (2014, p. 182).

The pair here have plenty of signs of age and use – they have a smoothed patina with small use-related dents and minor splits. They are wearable as bracelets.

References

Ransom, M., Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba: Regional Yemeni Jewelry, AUC Press, 2014.

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